Portsmouth man left with brain damage from attack 10 years ago gears up for charity row after rebuilding his life

WHEN a keen jogger was left brain damaged in a vicious attack his life was changed forever.

Friday, 19th April 2019, 8:48 am
Updated Friday, 19th April 2019, 9:02 am
Anthony Sims at Nuffield Gym, Portsmouth. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Dad-of-one Anthony Sim was punched to the ground and stamped on while running near Tipner Lake in Portsmouth – suffering long-term brain damage in 2009.

But now 10 years on from the attack the 45-year-old has put his life back together – and is even taking on a 9km row for the brain injury charity that supported him.

Anthony, a former buyer for IBM, is rowing the equivalent of Portsmouth to Ryde, Isle of Wight, on Tuesday, April 30 – his 46th birthday.

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Anthony Sims at Nuffield Gym, Portsmouth. Picture: Habibur Rahman

But the road to recovery has been a long and treacherous one ever since his attacker mistook him for a man who pushed a boy off a bike and inflicted brutal wounds in an unprovoked attack.

His attacker was jailed for nine years but Anthony, from North End, has never been able to run since the incident.

‘I’ve always enjoyed running,’ Anthony said, ‘but after what happened to me 10 years ago, I just can’t do it anymore.

‘I wanted to keep exercising and so started to take up rowing instead.

Anthony Sims was brutally attacked 10 years ago and has a brain injury. Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘That being said I do miss running, because I like being outside – but rowing is great for your upper body and legs so that has helped with my recovery.’

Following the attack, Anthony says he spent 13 months in hospital, before going through a lengthy rehabilitation process.

Currently single, he now does voluntary charity work for Scope and Different Strokes – but the damage that was done to him will never truly disappear.

He said: ‘I have a lot of weakness in my left side, which can be quite frustrating; it’s pretty much shot to pieces.

Anthony Sims with his parents Mike and Jo Sims. Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘Of course my brain isn’t quite wired up the way it used to be either.

‘I still find it hard to believe that somebody would go that far just to hurt someone.’

Luckily, Anthony hasn’t been alone in his journey – supported by his parents Mike and Jo, Nuffield Health Gym in Alexandra Park, and Headway Portsmouth and South East Hampshire – the charity he is raising money for.

Anthony says he is ‘incredibly grateful’ for the support he has received by everyone around him, especially in the build-up to this ‘rather painful’ challenge.

He hopes that raising awareness of this will help people to understand the injuries suffered by people with brain damage – injuries that are not externally visible.

Anthony has been going to Nuffield Gym even before his attack – and general manager Matt Billington-Eden says he is an ‘integral’ member of the community there.

He said: ‘We are all really proud of what Anthony has done. It’s amazing that he wanted to do something like this, off the back of everything that’s happened.

‘He’s an extremely driven individual, and a big part of our community – he’s here every single day and catches up with everyone who’s in.

‘To us, he’s a very special part of the club and watching him turn his life around has been a huge inspiration to others. He’s really shown his inner strength.’